SCOTTISH football bible Willie Duncan (@Willie_Duncan) is back with his best bet for Sunday’s Old Firm Scottish Cup semi-final from Hampden Park.
Celtic v Rangers | Sunday 12:00 | Sky Sports
Having already secured the Scottish League Cup and Scottish Premiership title, Celtic arrive at Hampden Park on Sunday afternoon dreaming of a domestic treble.
The Hoops have fallen regularly in the latter stages of Cup competitions and, so, 16 years have passed since the team from Glasgow’s east end have achieved that particular feat.
Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic, however, look like an entirely different animal; they have avoided domestic defeat so far this season and, even though their levels have dropped a notch since securing the league title at Tynecastle at the beginning of the month, the Hoops are certain to be fully focused for this Cup clash.
‘Gers ready for battle
Pedro Caixinha was an interested spectator when Rangers averted the danger of a clean sweep for Celtic in this fixture this season when they came from behind to salvage a point in a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park on the previous occasion that these teams met and the Portuguese boss has insisted that his team are primed and ready for the challenge.
Rangers were beaten 1-0 at this stage of the League Cup against the Hoops earlier in the campaign, but they were victorious when these teams contested the Scottish Cup semi-final last season.
The ‘Gers won a nerve shredding penalty shoot-out against Ronny Deila’s Hoops but major silverware remains elusive, for the Govan club were beaten by Hibernian in the Scottish Cup final.
Passion high, quality thin on the ground
There will be no shortage of passion when the rivalry is renewed, but the match itself is not always packed with quality and those who fancy fewer than three goals to be scored may be tempted to back such an outcome at 153/100.
It’s a play that would have seen punters profit from each of the last five matches between these teams in Cup competitions – at the end of 90 minutes, of course.
There have been goals at both ends in three of the four meetings between these rivals this term and the 8/11 quote on offer for the trend to continue could well prove popular here, while punters may fancy backing more than two goals to be scored at 59/100 with the odds compilers.
Celtic, though, have looked to be a class above the rest of the field in Scottish football this season and Rodgers’ side will be desperate not to allow themselves a slip that could cost them the Cup – and, of course, a shot at that elusive domestic treble.
Rangers, too, will have atonement in mind as they try to bag the Scottish Cup following their failure to deliver in the final of the competition last term – despite holding a 2-1 lead going into the closing stages of that match against the Hibees.
The betting angle
Celtic’s front line is superb; Moussa Dembele has enjoyed himself in this fixture this season, scoring five goals against the ‘Gers, while the signing of Scott Sinclair from Aston Villa has proven to be a great bit of business.
Sinclair has struck 23 goals for Rodgers’ side – including the winner for Celtic against Rangers at Ibrox on Hogmanay.
With Celtic offering up so much quality in the final third, the Hoops could get amongst the goals at Hampden and backing Rodgers’ men to beat the ‘Gers by at least two goals may offer punters a path to profit ahead of Sunday’s Scottish Cup showdown.
Celtic v Rangers – Celtic -1 handicap (23/20 Coral)